Jewish News Roundup

Tamar Fox — even when I hate what she says, I enjoy how she says it — writes for Jewcy:

  • Rabbi Avi Weiss and Rabbi Marc Angel have launched a new group for Orthodox rabbis called the International Rabbinic Fellowship, which they hope can be an answer to the Rabbinic Council of America and its constant edging to the right. More than a hundred rabbis have already expressed interest in the group.
  • A new study done by a Brandeis professor says that there are far fewer men involved in the Conservative and Reform movements than women. Prof. Sylvia Barack Fishman’s report, called “The Growing Gender Imbalance in American Jewish Life” will be published later this month. In response, the Reform movement is working on different ways to encourage men and boys to participate more in synagogue and youth group leadership, to attend services more often, and to increase their Jewish study.
  • Alysa Stanton-Ogulnick will be the first black Jewish female rabbi when she’s ordained by HUC Cincinatti next spring. In an interview with JTA she talks about her journey to Judaism, to rabbinical school, and struggling with prejudices in Israel.
  • Israeli military officials have stopped granting interviews to the Israel bureau of Al-Jazeera, effectively cutting off a significant line of communication to the Arab world. The IDF began the boycott in response to Al Jazeera’s coverage of the Gaza operations earlier this year. Meanwhile, an Israeli expert on Arab media from Bar Ilan Univeristy, Mordechai Kedar, has taken it upon himself to be unofficial voice of Israel, and has appeared on Al Jazeera several times.
  • In the wake of several recent attacks on Jews by African-Americans in Crown Heights, some with anti-Semitic undertones, a mediation group founded 17 years ago has reconvened. Project Care was established after the Crown Heights riots of 1991, with members from the African American and Jewish communities meeting to keep the lines of communication open. Though they haven’t met much in recent years, they’ve had three meetings in the past four weeks, as tension between the two communities grows.
  • The Avi Chai Foundation awarded a $275,000 grant each to four individuals and one team of two on Tuesday. The Avi Chai Fellowship is based on the MacArthur genius grants, and is meant to “be a vehicle for investing in people with vision, creativity, courage, savvy and stamina to try new things, to think outside the conventional boxes or inside them in new ways, and to see opportunities where others see obstacles” according to Avi Chai Chairman Arthur Fried. The winners are Ariel Beery, Aharon Horwitz, Dr. Betsy Dolgin Katz, Rabbi Elie Kaunfer, Rabbi Dov Linzer, and Rabbi Menachem Schmidt.
  • In Modiin, Israel, the first state-funded non-Orthodox synagogue has just opened. Though Orthodox congregations routinely get funding from the government for buildings, upkeep and even rabbi’s salaries, the Yozma congregation is the first Reform synagogue to get any money from the government for its building. To do so, it went before the Israeli Supreme Court twice.
  • Last night, for the first time, a Jewish woman and a Muslim woman received masters degrees at the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago. CTU has expanded its mission beyond the Catholic community, hoping to foster more dialogue and cooperation in interfaith settings.
  • Jerusalem hasn’t had a chief rabbi since 2003, and no one seems to mind except for Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, Israel’s chief Sephardic rabbi, who would like to see one of his sons appointed to the position.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see Amazon.com). My work has been followed by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (Alexander90210.com).
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